Italy 1900. A Portrait in Color
“You can have the universe as long as I can have Italy,” composer Giuseppe Verdi once said. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, Verdi’s emotive language appealed to the patriotic sentiments of an emerging nation-state. After decades of bloody struggle, the movement known as the Risorgimento triumphed with the proclamation of the unification of Italy in 1861, bringing together disparate kingdoms and territories that until then had been ruled by Austria, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Papal States.
Today, Verdi’s appeal to Italy resonates not only with his compatriots, but also with millions of people around the world who gaze at this boot-shaped peninsula captivated by its light, its art and its sensuality. This collection is a fascinating visual document of early 20th century Italy, bringing together photochromes and old color plates.
From coast to coast, through settings of classical antiquity and the prodigious Renaissance, along the Venetian canals and along the colorful Amalfi coastline, each of these evocative images impresses with both its chromatic clarity and its vivid evocation of times gone by. As if in an enchanted dream, we walk through a dimly lit and empty St. Mark’s Square, stroll alone through the shadowed courtyard of the Uffizi Gallery, and pass a few horse-drawn carriages in front of the Pantheon in Rome. Instead of cameras, guides and groups of visitors, we find merchants and workers, quiet street scenes and humble neighborhoods.